The Beauty of Birding
by Rachelle Vaughn
Everyone needs a hobby that helps them recharge, gain perspective, and put a smile back on their face when life gets them down. Birding is that activity for me. The dazzling scenery and amazing wildlife at my local wildlife refuge is the perfect thing to help me kick stress to the curb, invigorate my soul, and appreciate the natural world around me.
All you have to do is step outside and let go of the jumbled mess of thoughts and worries clattering around in your mind and focus on the sounds around you. The tee-hee tee-hoo of a Black Phoebe perched in an apple tree. The lively song of a Western Meadowlark as it sings its heart out in a field of wildflowers. Is that an Acorn Woodpecker pecking away on a nearby tree trunk, calling out waka-waka for all to hear?
Birding is an exhilarating scavenger hunt of cheerful sounds and delightful color. A flash of rosy red from the bouncy flight of a House Finch. The buttery yellow of a restless Yellow Warbler foraging among dense maple leaves. The contrasting cornflower blue and rust-orange of the male Western Bluebird.
It’s easy to find the beauty in even the simplest and/or most common birds. The way the light hits a European Starling’s glossy feathers and makes it look like a rainbow in the sun. The variety of shades of brown and gray on a House Sparrow. And don’t even get me started on Hummingbirds!
When you’re birding, there’s always the possibility of seeing and hearing the unexpected. And that’s just one of the many things that makes birding so exciting. Every time you step outside your door you’re on a treasure hunt. Some days you might not see anything interesting. And others might leave you in awe of how many different and fascinating bird species there are.
You can bird by yourself or with a group of people. And it doesn’t have to cost you anything. You can spend as little or as much on the hobby as you want. You don’t need any fancy equipment, just some binoculars and a camera so you can have a reference for identifying those mystery birds when you get back home.
Plus, it’s a fantastic learning experience. The plumage on a bird is ever-changing—which can be somewhat frustrating when you’re first starting out!—because of breeding plumage, different phases, forms, and the fact that sometimes juveniles look nothing like their parents. It might seem overwhelming, but, like life, it’s important to take it one bird at a time.
Soon, you’ll be able to tell the difference between a Great Egret and a Snowy Egret. With a glance, you’ll recognize the black cap that extends over the eye on a Western Grebe that sets it apart from a Clark’s Grebe. Even when you’ve added a couple hundred birds to your lifelist, it still won’t get boring because a bird you never thought you’d see in your area might go off course and end up right in your backyard!
One of the greatest things about birding is that you don’t have to go far to find beautiful winged creatures. Some of my best birding days have been from a parking lot or my own backyard. And, you don’t even need to get out of your car in some instances. Many wildlife refuges have auto tours where you can conveniently use your own car as a blind.
The most important thing to remember while birding is to keep an open mind and your eyes peeled. You never know what’s going to fly into your life next and you never know what you’ll find around the next corner…
When Rachelle Vaughn isn’t writing romance novels, she’s visiting nearby wildlife refuges and posting photos on her birding blog, Wings and Daydreams. She’s thrilled to share stories about her birding journey and looks forward to new discoveries in the future. Whether they are exotic birds she’s never even heard of before, or plain old brown sparrows, she’s delighted all the same.